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More and more animals are being cared for by the RSPCA as owners struggle to care for their pets as the cost of living crisis bites.

The animal welfare charity has released new figures that show rehoming has dropped 8% while animal intake is up 8.4% year-on-year.

The charity fears that the cost of living crisis means more animals are coming into its care while fewer people consider taking on a new pet.

Dr Samantha Gaines, RSPCA’s pet welfare expert, said: “Unfortunately, we believe we’re really starting to see the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

“Many of the animals – particularly dogs – who are coming into our care have behavioural challenges which could be linked to how they were bred as well as lockdown limiting the amount of training, socialising, and outside world experience they had.

“We’re also beginning to see more animals coming into our care because their owners simply couldn’t afford to care for them anymore; or, in the most extreme cases, having been neglected or abandoned due to the rising cost of pet care.

“Sadly, this is coming at the same time that potential pet owners are deciding now isn’t the best time to take on an animal due to the soaring cost of living, and feel they can’t financially commit to adding a pet to their family at such a worrying time.

“For those who are able to bring a pet into their home, we’re urging them to really consider adopting rather than buying.

“Many of our animals will already be neutered, vaccinated and treated for fleas and worms – making it much more cost-effective – and we’ll work with them to make sure they find their perfect match.”

The number of dogs rehomed by the charity fell 6% from 4,877 in 2020 to 4,567 in 202. while cats dropped 12% from 17,868 in 2020 to 15,579 in 2021.

At the same time, the average stay for an animal (the number of days they spend in RSPCA care from being ready to rehome to leaving for their new home) also increased for dogs by 9.4% – from 85 days in 2020 to 93 days in 2021 – and for rabbits – from 104 in 2020 to 117 in 2021, an increase of 12.5%. Cats’ length of stay remained the same at 67 days.

In 2021, the RSPCA saw more dogs, rabbits and other pets (including small furries, pet birds, farm animals and exotics) coming into its care than in 2020. Intake for cats and horses fell by 1.7% and 18.1%, respectively.

The RSPCA has just launched its annual Adoptober campaign encouraging prospective pet owners to consider giving a rescued animal a new home.

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